Interconnected - Dubai Junction Light Trails
2 years, 3 months ago 19

Interconnected – Dubai Junction Light Trails

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Leaving Dubai

The bribe requested by security to access this roof was fairly typical in Dubai, we were told – 100 dirhams per person. We were limited to 45 minutes, which meant we’d be very pushed for time when blue hour arrived. Nevertheless, despite the time restriction, we all came away with images we were happy with, which has been the story of our trip so far, fortunately.

Tonight, before we fly, we have a window of opportunity to shoot Meydan bridge – a bridge built for use only by the royal family. I tried to shoot this last week, but Jaguar were filming a commercial for a new car, so we were denied access. Fingers crossed we have better luck today.

The Cool Bits – Technical Info

Processing Time: Infinity times by 10
Exposure Blending method: Luminosity Masks
No. of Exposures: 32
EV Range: o + -2 (four base exposures & four under-exposed exposures)
Aperture: From f/6.3 (base exposures) and f/14 (light trails).
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 14mm
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8
Camera: Nikon D800
Plugins: Nik Color Efex
Luminosity Masks: Used to recover selected highlights

Workflow Explanation – Interconnected – Dubai Junction Light Trails

created with rayaTo learn my post-processing techniques, feel free to check out my courses: The Art of Digital Blending & The Art of Cityscape Photography

This image took longer to finish than I’d expected. I had a very strong idea of what I wanted from the scene, but Photoshop had other ideas. On the first attempt, I went through the entire workflow only to realise at the last hurdle that there was a small stitching error. I started again from scratch, and finished it the second time.

I had planned to shoot 4 vertical tiles, rather than horizontal tiles, for this pano. I found horizontal tiles to be just as efficient, and more comfortable, as we were shooting over a large wall which obscured some of our view.

In terms of shooting, I composed the first tile, fired off 5 brackets of 1 stop difference, and then shot 6 or more longer exposures for the light trails. Then I swiveled the ballhead down slightly to do the same with the next tile. In the end, I used 32 exposures to get the final result.

In post, I added a cooler temperature to the files in ACR. Photoshop didn’t like the test-stitch I performed on the base files. There was, as can be expected at 14mm, a lot of distortion. To counter this, I treated each tile as its own image. In other words, I dragged the base exposure for the first tile in Photoshop. I then opened a darker exposure, which I used to control the highlights in the base exposure.

Then I dragged in the light trails exposures and blended them into the base exposure using the Blend Mode Lighten. To finish, I corrected all of the distortion so that all of the buildings, and the horizon, were straight.

I did exactly the same thing with the other 3 tiles. In the end I had 4 tiles, all with controlled highlights, all with decent light trails, and all had perspective and barrel correction.

This allowed Photoshop to simply place each exposure on top of one another, with only 1 minor incident.

If you look at the base exposures you will see that the light trails do not extend all the way down the image. This is impossible as we are above the cars from this point, and so lose sight of the car lights. So to create light trails, I copied the existing light trails and warped/distorted them until they fit the scene correctly.

Although I was editing in 16bit mode, I started to see a lot of banding in the sky. I tried every method under the sun to remove it. The only thing that reduced it well, was adding some noise to the sky. However, the noise was clearly noticeable. Instead, I examined the Channels palette (next to the layers panel), and saw that the Red and Green channels contained A LOT of banding, while the blue channel was perfect.

I added noise to the Red and Green channels, which reduced the banding but didn’t create excessive noise in the sky.

To finish, I painted a gentle vignette at the bottom of the image and then had a beer!

Original Base Images Used

 

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  • http://pierrepichot.com Pierre Pichot

    I really like when you explain your workflow, that’s inspiring.

    …and great shot by the way 😀

  • MartijnKort-photography

    Nice share of the story behind the laptop :) Photoshop has it’s ways of not doing what you want. Good tip of adding the noise to a certain channel!
    Banding can be greatly removed with adding grain, but have to try it the way you described. Thanks for that!
    Love the image!

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thanks man. Adding grain and noise produces the same result :)

  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/rick-deacon/ Rick D

    You are like a Sensae of photography Jimmy, amazing shot. I hope to be able to capture shots of comparable quality one day

  • Reina

    Awesome processing whit a great result!

  • Peter Scrimshaw

    Fantastic image and great processing Jimmy, many thanks for sharing. Just wondering why you went for so much overlap with the base images? I know you are supposed to have plenty to help with the stitching, but have you used this much because of the very wide angle lens? All the best, Peter

    • http://throughstrangelenses.com/ Jimmy McIntyre

      Thanks Peter! Best practice dictates we have at least 40% overlap between exposures. My motto is, take more exposures with a greater overlap so that you have all of your bases covered in post :)

      • Peter Scrimshaw

        OK, thanks for the tip Jimmy, I must remember to do that next time!

  • Henrik Løvgret

    Truly fantastic!!

  • Alessandro

    Ok Jimmy…you are CRAZY! (crazy good :D).
    Amazing use of this technique for a super difficult shot/post processing challenge!
    I wanna dig a lot in LM (bought your courses), but atm I don’t have a lot of time/mind after work to study :( Hope that’ll change soon :)

    Best regards,
    Alessandro

  • chema

    Jimmy, fantastic. One question. How do you added noise to the Red and Green channels and reduced the banding but didn’t create excessive noise in the sky?

  • David Rouchet

    That’s an awesome image Jimmy! I tried myself to achieve a multi exposure pano of a city with lights trails, so I truly understand what challenges you have faced. Nevertheless, looking at your image, this is a source of inspiration to do such things again, bravo!

  • http://www.mgcre8v.com Mark Gilvey

    I haven’t tried any kind of multi exposure pano yet just because of the shear amount of possible mess ups that can happen but as far as stitching goes, try Kolor Autopano Giga. Photoshop will put its tail between its legs and run away after a certain number of stitches. APG just laughs and asks for more. That said, it’s very easy to make a 2gb pano in APG that will also kill any more work you can do in PS. I like to shoot with an 85mm of landscapes which when stitched will give me the wide angle I want with superior sharpness. We’re talking images upward of 10,000 pixels. That said, this shot would have been super difficult to do with all that data to manage and process but I bet you are already wondering “what if”. Cheers

  • dbur

    I often struggle with sky banding. Adding noise has not been satisfactory when I have tried it. I always end up blending with one of my stack images to fix it. I’ll keep in mind to look at the color channels next time I face this. That being said I still see quite a bit of horizontal sky banding in this image. That is probably because of the compression and presentation for the web that has occured in various places. I see that happen in my images as well when the original has no banding at all. Is there a link to maybe see this more accurately presented?

    Very nice image!

  • Yash

    This is amazing! And sheer madness! Hats off to your skills, passion and perseverence!

  • Simone Castoldi

    Jimmy, first of all, i wanna thank you for you tutorials, i bought recently you Masterclass tutorial and it has been really helpfull. i will be in Dubai soon and i just want to make sure to get such a fantastic view. may i ask the name of the building from where you have taken this amazing image?

  • Lydia Ward

    Hi there may I please ask the name of this building? I’m going to Dubai in a month and would love the opportunity to practise my night photography. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

  • Din

    Hey Jimmy, as usual this one is plain Brilliant. Love what you do to a
    City! I want to be half as good in next 3 years :-)
    Would you please be kind enough to share latitude and longitude for google maps to shoot this ? Many many Thanks.

  • Thorsten

    Great shot! I am going to visit dubai soon. Could you tell me the name of the tower you shot from? Can you recommend more towers ?

    Cheers